There is a big difference between the unwelcome pain that comes from an old sports injury or picking up a heavy box, in comparison to a condition involving the nerves. The bones, muscles, and nerves in your back are a complex system that support your entire body, and it’s always possible that they may become compromised and lead to a condition called lumbar radiculopathy.
What Is Lumbar Radiculopathy?
Lumbar radiculopathy sounds like a big, ominous condition, but it’s actually a term that refers to compression or an inflammation of the nerves in the spinal column. It is most commonly caused by a herniated disc, bone spur, osteoarthritis, or when the surrounding ligaments are thickened. You might sometimes hear people refer to the symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy as sciatica, but it’s important to note that sciatica refers to when the pain is felt along the sciatic nerve.
One of the primary characteristics of lumbar radiculopathy is that patients will experience a radiating pain, as opposed to a steady and focused pain that often comes through more common injuries. The pain generally starts in the lower back and can be felt throughout the buttock into the thigh, leg, and sometimes as far down as the foot. It is typically a deep and steady pain and may be worse when sitting or walking.
How Do I Know It Is Lumbar Radiculopathy?
Most patients will recognize the pain from its radiating characteristics that set it apart from other types of discomfort. Once you visit our office for a diagnosis, we can determine the source of your pain and move forward with a treatment plan. It’s typically diagnosed through a combination of patient history, a physical exam, and a lumbar MRI scan.
Can Lumbar Radiculopathy Be Treated?
Thankfully, there is a pretty easy way to alleviate the symptoms of lumbar radiculopathy, as well as treat the condition. At NewSouth Neurospine, we always approach patient care with a modest treatment plan to fit individual patients. Rather than jump straight to surgery, we choose to treat with a combination of rest, medication, and certain physical activity that is personalized to your individual case. Since the spine is such a delicate and crucial part of your body, we do use surgery only after exhausting all other treatment avenues. Lumbar radiculopathy tends to resolve itself within 2-4 weeks when treated with an anti-inflammatory medication like steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories. Combined with rest, most patients will find comfort fairly quickly through this method. For some patients, additional medical treatment may be needed in the form of an epidural steroid injection. Once those treatment paths have been explored, if you’re still feeling the radiating pain in your back, we do have minimally invasive surgical options.
If you’ve been experiencing this pain in your lower back or throughout your lower extremities, contact NewSouth NeuroSpine today to make an appointment. Our doctors will work to make sure we understand your individual set of circumstances and start you on the proper treatment course as soon as possible.